Having to come up with a solution to weight loss plateau is a great! It means that all the hard work and time you have put into your health and fitness program has been paying off and your weight is going down. No matter how much weight you desire to lose, it's highly possible that you will run into a few periods of time where the pounds just won’t be dropping off as you expect. It’s important not to be discouraged at this, but to use it as an opportunity to fine tune your habits for continued success. Being able to fine tune your fitness and healthy routines will be a necessary skill as your body goes through different changes as you age and experience life. Before you start throw away your current weight loss plan, it’s important to be able to recognize if your weight loss has actually plateaued.
Has your weight loss plateaued?
Recognizing if you have actually reached a weight loss plateau is an important first step. The best way to know if a weight loss plateau has been reached is to be consistent with your weight loss plan for at least a few weeks. I recommend weighing yourself once a week for 4 weeks before determining if you are at a weight loss plateau. The reason for this is because most people who start an effective weight loss program might lose more weight in the first two weeks followed by continued weight loss of about 1-2 pounds a week after that. During the weeks following the first month of your program is when you should be looking out for weight loss plateaus. If you notice that you have stopped losing weight for a few weeks while still being consistent with your exercise and diet, it may be time to adjust your strategy so you can jumpstart progress again.
Strategies for overcoming weight loss plateaus
1. Check your consistency
It can be difficult to maintain a consistent workout routine and diet for several weeks. If you find that you may have had a few interruptions in your workout frequency or have been less focused on your diet, then simply getting back on track might help bring back your weight loss consistency. You won’t know for sure if your current weight loss plan is failing unless you can be consistent with it long term.
2. Track your progress
A great way to check your consistency is to track your progress by using a personal health journal or activity tracker. Writing down exactly what you did and how it affected your weight loss will help you determine what kind of habits you need to do lose weight. It will also help you identify hiccups in your routine so that you can easily identify what you need to change in order to get back on track the next week if you see a pause in your weight loss.
3. Increase workout length, intensity, and frequency
An unfortunate response to weight loss is a slight reduction in your body’s ability to burn calories. This means that the more weight you lose, the harder it will be to burn the same amount of calories than when you were heavier. To help offset this response, you should work to increase the length of your workouts, the difficulty of your workouts, or increase the number of times you work out per week. Making one or all of these changes could help give you the boost in weight loss you are looking for.
4. Reduce your caloric intake
If you want to lose weight long term you will need to understand how to continually put yourself into a caloric deficit. No matter what diet trend you chose to jump on, you won’t lose weight consistently long term if you are eating too much. To understand this process I suggest listening to our podcast episode on understanding fat loss. Losing weight, gaining muscle mass, and increasing activity or exercise intensity can all cause significant changes to your metabolism which is why you won’t be able to stick with the same effective calorie consumption amount long term. If you hit a weight loss plateau, reducing your calories can be a simple way to kick start the weight loss process again.
Take home point
Weight loss should be viewed as a journey, with focus on achieving small goals over a shorter period of time that will eventually culminated into meeting your final goal. Consistency is the only way you will make continued progress. It will be hard to know if you are consistent if you don’t have a plan and aren’t recording how successful you have been at sticking with your plan. Don’t worry if you have a few small plateaus here and there. These can be warnings that its time to adjust your exercise routine or reduce your calories.